Do you change when you go on vacation? Do you become someone you are not at home? Topic came up in therapy today.
The answers were pretty varied. Here are a few of them.
- True side can come out not so much different
- oh yes, eagerly so
- I am always me. I have no need to be anything more or less.
- Always being authentic is the way to go. Lying is a lot of work and getting found out isn’t pretty.
- I’m more carefree. …childlike
While the original question wasn’t about sex, it reminded me of one of the topics that I’ve seen
a lot of people struggle with. What does sexual authenticity mean, and how do we know what it looks like?
It’s a tricky thing. Authenticity can be taken to mean “being your true self” or “acting in alignment with who you are” and I see some value in those definitions. It’s easy to see that if you’re in the closet about your sexual orientation, your gender identity, your sexual practices, your relationship structure, or any other aspect of your sexuality, you’re not living as authentically as you might. Of course, there are many reasons that people choose to be in the closet, and it’s not always a bad thing. If you need to keep quiet about your personal life in order to maintain your employment, that’s a perfectly fine cost-benefit analysis. The fact that other people have different options or make different choices doesn’t mean that your decision is wrong.
At the same time, I think the response about lying is important to unpack because I don’t think there needs to be a dichotomy between authenticity and lying. That’s what really struck me about the original question because for me, it’s not so much about becoming a different person. Instead, it’s about allowing a different part of myself to come to the surface. That’s also what role play feels like to me. I can’t do it if I don’t have that personna within me. For me, it’s not about acting a part. It’s about making room for a different piece of myself to emerge.
Authenticity doesn’t mean that you’re the same person in all circumstances. It means that whatever situation you’re in, the parts of yourself that people see are genuine rather than being a front or a mask. It’s speaking your truth, even if it’s not the whole truth. Authenticity has room for privacy, but not for secrets. It has room for boundaries, but not for lies. And it has room for being a different person in different situations, simply because most people are pretty complex.
To quote Walt Whitman, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” I see no conflict between that sentiment and my desire to me true to myself. What about you?